Mother ‘drugged healthy son, 12, and shaved his head to convince him he was dying of cancer – to get money from well-wishers’
Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 2:15 AM on 1st October 2010
A mother convinced her 12-year-old son he was dying from cancer in an attempt to get donations from well-wishers.
Carol Lynn Schnuphase drugged her son Christopher to make him look ill and even shaved his head and eyebrows in an effort to convince people the youngster was dying from leukaemia.
The 47-year-old spiked her son’s meals with drugs to make him appear ill before contacting local businesses and church groups to raise funds for his treatment.
Deception: A television image of Carol Lynn Schnuphase, who convinced her son Christopher he was dying of cancer – and then asked local businesses for money
Investigators said Schnuphase was so convincing that she received more than $7,000 before her scam was discovered by her sister.
One her Facebook page, Schnuphase wrote: ‘Christopher now knows he’s dying.’
She later told relatives that he had succumbed to the illness.
But police in Roseville, Michigan, said the 12-year-boy is in perfect health.
Detectives who interviewed members of Schnuphase’s own family said they genuinely thought the boy had cancer.
They only became suspicious when Schnuphase said her son had died and she had decided against a holding a funeral.
Healthy: A TV image of Christopher before his mother shaved his head and eyebrows to make him look as if he had undergone therapy to combat his ‘cancer’
James Berlin, deputy chief of the Roseville Police, said Schnuphase maintained the deception over a period of several months.
Church groups held fundraising activities and Schnuphase canvassed local businesses for donations, which she said would pay for life-saving treatment.
‘They were duped,’ Deputy Berlin said. ‘They felt they were helping out a mother and her son. People want to think the best of other people.’
Deputy Berlin said the boy did not know he was being used as part of a scam. He said his mother drugged him by putting opiates in his applesauce and other food.
By shaving his eyebrows and hair she was able to tell people that it had fallen out from chemotherapy treatment.
Schnuphase has been charged with child abuse and two counts of accepting money under false pretences and faces up to 14 years in jail.
Her son has been placed with foster parents.
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